For those of you who don’t know, double unders are a basic yet amazingly effective rope jumping technique.
Simply put, they involve turning the rope under your feet twice for every one jump. This technique develops coordination, timing, agility, conditioning, and neurological efficiency. Oh yea, and it also has a little side effect of burning a ton of body fat.
With all of these benefits, why doesn’t everyone do them? Well quite frankly, double unders can be difficult to learn. And unlike most other effective “gym” movements, double unders can’t be merely willed or forced.
In fact, mastering double unders requires the right mindset, quality coaching, and of course, a good deal of practice. Leave any of these components out and double unders can quickly become one of the most frustrating movements you’ll ever attempt to learn.
Even though double unders take effort to master, the task is far from impossible. It can be done, and with a few pointers, it won’t take as long as you think. Over the years, I have discovered some clever “tricks” that can really speed up the learning process. Here are my top six shortcuts to help you dominant this great exercise as fast as possible:
1) Get the right rope for your height and experience level. Get your own rope for consistency. Start by adjusting the length of the rope to suit your height and limb-length relationship. This is best done by stepping on the center of the rope with one foot and pulling the handles straight up towards your shoulders.
If you’re a beginner, it’s ideal to have the handles go up to approximately shoulder height. If you’re intermediate/advanced, the top of the handles should go up to armpit height.
2) Now, set up your body position properly.
- Hands in front of torso.
- Elbows in.
- Keep eyes set at a spot on the wall.
- Keep your chest up and abs tight.
- Maintain midline stability.
Once your position is set, it’s time to start turning the rope!
3) Get efficient at single unders first. This is a critical step; DON’T SKIP IT. Single unders require only one turn of the rope per jump. Although this is an easier technique, it reinforces good body position, which will be necessary for the transition to double unders.
The key points to follow here are:
- Stay on the balls of your feet.
- Land in the same place everytime.
- Jump just high enough to clear the rope
- Stay relaxed and increase speed over time
4) Now that you can perform single unders with proper form, incorporate “power singles” into your routine. A power single is simply a higher jump that allows more hang time. I like to follow this cadence: bounce-bounce-bounce-explode, bounce-bounce-bounce-explode, etc. At this point, you’ll still be turning the rope under your feet only once per jump, so adjust the rope speed accordingly.
5) Next, you’re going to work your first double under. Keep everything the same from “step 4”, except that instead of doing a power single, you will attempt to turn the rope twice during the “explode” jump. Here’s how:
- Increase the speed of the rope turning. Make sure all of the increase in rope speed comes from wrist action. In other words, don’t lift the hands and try to whip the rope with your elbows and shoulders.
- Jump when the rope is about to hit your feet. Timing is critical when performing double unders. It is all too common for newbies to jump too early. You really need to wait until the rope is just about to hit your feet before you jump.
- Don’t be particular about how smooth you look as you are first learning this technique. Initially, your goal is just to get that rope turned twice under one jump. Once you achieve that, we can work on your efficiency.
6) Now that you’ve developed your confidence, let’s increase your efficiency. When you were achieving your first double, I didn’t care how you jumped. Now, I do care. Getting good at double unders does require efficient jumping, so technique matters.
Your goal here is to just power jump while keeping your body in a straight line. Be sure not to do a tuck jump, a pike, or a donkey kick. Power jump only! Also, upon landing, do not stab your feet into the floor.
Instead, focus on a quick and efficient rebound. You do not want a heavy landing here. Think light and bouncy. This is key if you’re ever going to fully realize the benefits of this movement. Here is a video I just shot for you to add a visual of these techniques:
Well there you go— six shortcuts to mastering the elusive double under. It will take some effort, but the results will be well worth it!